Evacuee returns to Harpenden nearly 70 years after the end of WWII

Iris Page returns to Harpenden. Photo by Alan Bunting

Iris Page returns to Harpenden. Photo by Alan Bunting - Credit: Photo supplied by Alan Bunting

A former child evacuee from the Second World War has returned to Harpenden, the town which provided refuge for her and over 1,000 youngsters during the conflict.

Iris Page (nee Bone) as a youngster while a wartime evacuee in Harpenden

Iris Page (nee Bone) as a youngster while a wartime evacuee in Harpenden - Credit: Photo supplied

Seventy-five years after arriving as a three-year-old, Iris Page (née Bone) recently made a nostalgic visit after receiving an invitation from the Harpenden Local History Society.

The 78 year old said she had many fond memories of the town where, despite escaping the threat of bombs, she quickly settled in, enjoyed playing on the common and ended up making lifelong friends.

She was evacuated from Enfield – one of 1,200 evacuees taken into homes in Harpenden – in September 1939 .After initially staying with a family at West Common, Iris moved to a neighbouring home where she was effectively “adopted” by a childless couple, and remained until 1945.

Iris, one of nine children, said that when she was evacuated from Enfield as a toddler she “didn’t really remember my family, but I was made aware that I had brothers and sisters, and they visited occasionally”.

She attended St Hilda’s School, where she recalls playing the triangle in the school’s percussion band, and being issued with a “Mickey Mouse gas mask”.

Iris said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my childhood in Harpenden, despite being separated from my own family.

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“I have lots of happy memories, such as picking rosehips for the Women’s Voluntary Service and collecting corn for the chickens on the common.”

Iris said she had noticed many changes during her visit from her current home in Eye, Suffolk, to Harpenden, explaining, “it was amazing to see the larger properties with electric gates and the houses at West Common where the hedges have been removed.”

The Harpenden Local History Society recently held a “Home Front, 1939” exhibition at the town’s Park Hall.

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